Partnering with other entrepreneurs enables you to implement at a faster adoption rate.
By Lisa Falzone (Founder, President & CEO, Revel Systems)
Whether you’re a first time entrepreneur or you’ve built several businesses, it is difficult to bring a business idea from conception to implementation. After 7 years of experience and many lessons learned, if getting help is an option, I will always choose to get help. You can’t do everything yourself and in most matters of business, two (or three or four!) heads are better than one.
When I started Revel Systems, we started out doing everything from software development to hardware creation to hardware installation. We were doing it all because no one else had yet combined all of those services. We quickly realized that, as the old saying goes, if you’re a jack of all trades, you can be a master of none. So eventually, as our business grew and we gained a better understanding of our goals, we decided that we could outsource some of our production and services to other partners in our field.
For example, when we built Revel Systems there was no card swipe technology available for swiping credit cards using an iPad. Nor were there any printers to print receipts from. So my co-founder, Chris and I set out to build a swipe unit that would work with the iPad and allow customers to print receipts.
Everyone we approached with the idea said it couldn’t be done. We contacted many colleagues, from Apple employees to Stanford engineers, and all of them told us it was impossible. But we were determined to build it – and build it quickly.
We didn’t give up and after many, many tireless hours of planning, building, and trial and error, we were the first company to provide clients with the technology to both swipe credit cards and print receipts successfully from the Apple iPad 30 pin connector.
This was a situation in which we were forced to begin the project alone, despite our best efforts to find a partner! But it didn’t take long for others to realize that we were on to something, and after we had been selling the swipe units for about six months, other hardware manufacturers began producing them for much cheaper than we were able to.
It cost Revel Systems about $400 to make each swipe unit. The other manufacturers began selling them for $180. We quickly realized that in order to best serve our customers, we needed to partner with the other manufacturers. This not only decreased our bottom line, but we were also able to provide the same high-quality product to our clients at a much lower cost.
Having learned first-hand the value of partnering with our colleagues, we were all ears in early 2012, when Best Buy’s Geek Squad presented us with an intriguing proposal. At that time, we were installing our POS systems for our clients or were simply providing the software for our customers to install the system themselves. The Geek Squad was offering to manage the installation of our POS systems, in addition to fielding the customer service inquiries.
The choice came down to growing our support team or continuing the installation measures we were currently using. We knew our business would be growing quickly and spreading around the country. We realized that continuing to do the installation ourselves would no longer be cost effective. And if we simply continued to provide our clients with the installation software, we would likely be fielding vast amounts of support calls.
Recognizing an opportunity to free up some of our time to focus on new products and improve our clients’ customer service experience, we ultimately chose to partner with Geek Squad.
This was the best decision we’ve made this year. Our clients now have access to experienced support staff no matter where they are in the country. It has eliminated excessive travel for Revel Systems employees and has alleviated the strain of responding to all of our personal install requests.
As a business owner, you have to decide what is best for your clients. Cost and quality are essential factors when people decide what products to buy or vendors to use. By partnering with other entrepreneurs, you can find a way to lower costs or provide time-saving solutions for your clients. When they have a great experience with you, they will continue to do business with you and spread the word about your company.
Successful entrepreneurs will tell you that they succeeded because they took risks, thought outside the box, and knew when to ask for help. When you are building your own business, passing a piece of your production or service to another company – one that already has the structure in place and provides the same product or service at a better price – will benefit both you and your customers.
Our success at Revel Systems illustrates that partnering with other entrepreneurs enables you to implement a faster adoption rate and improve your customers’ service experience. And take it from me, happy customers lead to increased revenue – and the growth of your empire.
Editor’s note: Got a question for our guest blogger? Leave a message in the comments below.
About the guest blogger: Lisa Falzone is the Founder, President and CEO of Revel Systems, a full blown POS system for retail and restaurant locations. She has taken an idea and brought it into reality, connecting an iPad with a printer, cash drawer and card swipe unit that powers the iPad. Follow her on Twitter at @LisaFalzone.